The book of Titus is a brief New Testament Epistle located only a short distance before the book of Hebrews. Titus was the spiritual leader among the people on the island of Crete, located in the Mediterranean Sea a short distance southeast of the country of Greece. Paul had left Titus in Crete in order that he might use his administrative gifts to consolidate the work. The Apostle Paul later wrote a letter to Titus, encouraging him to ordain elders in the churches of Crete, and to supervise the work of the church on the island. In the previous lesson on Titus 2 (Booklet No. 365 entitled Counsel for Older Men and Women), we looked at the instructions directed toward older men and women in the church (found in Titus 2:1-4a). In the present lesson, we will look at God’s instructions for those who are younger in the faith.
Those who are younger need to remember that if they are going to be what God wants them to be in old age, they are going to have to be what God wants them to be now during their more youthful years. We do not automatically become generous, patient, and godly older people when we turn sixty-five.
The qualities outlined in verses 4 and 5 (of Titus 2) are to be taught by the older women of the church. The older women are not to be interfering busybodies, but they are to be humble advisors and teachers.
The younger women must of course be willing to accept suggestions from the older women in the church. If you are a wise younger woman, you will cultivate the friendship of older sisters in Christ, and you will beg for their advice and correction.
For an older woman to say to a younger sister in Christ, “I wouldn’t try that; I did, and it didn’t work”—is wonderful counsel. Such advice can be tremendously helpful to the next generation.
1. Counsel For Younger Women (Titus 2:4b-5)
The Apostle Paul (through Titus) has more to say to the younger women than to any of the other groups addressed in this epistle. That might be an indication of the extreme importance of their position in God’s plan of things. It is still true that “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” The mother of small children is one of the most important persons in all of society.
Titus 2:4 says, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children . . . .”
1) Younger women are to be “sober” (sober-minded). The word means that younger women are to be well-balanced in their thinking, and not easily swayed from one extreme to the other. Younger women sometimes get caught up with fad diets, or become overly protective of their children, or spend lots of time on the phone, or become unduly concerned about cleanliness. These are extremes which older women should teach the younger women to avoid.
To be sober-minded is to be calm in spirit, ready to meet the circumstances of life with a keen sense of trust in God. Or as Psalm 112:7 says it, she is not to be afraid of evil tidings, for her “heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.”
2) Younger women are to “love their husbands.” It may seem strange that a young woman should be told to love her husband, but we must remember that some of these marriages were undoubtedly arranged by the parents, and the young woman may not necessarily have been attracted to the man. We are talking about crude mountain people converted out of paganism; they were first-generation Christians.
For a wife to love her husband means much more than just kissing him goodbye when he leaves for work in the morning. There are dozens of ways a wife can show love for her husband. Love can be shown by acknowledging his headship in the home, keeping an orderly house, living within your means, apologizing promptly when there is a conflict, by being supportive of him when things go wrong, paying attention to your personal appearance, by refraining from criticizing and contradicting your husband in front of others, and by making no major decisions without his advice. The instruction is simply this: The young woman is to be an affectionate wife, and the wife who loves her husband tries never to say anything that would injure him. She tries to avoid using sarcasm, bitterness, and verbal attacks against him. She seeks to maintain a home that supports him and guards his respect. The husband (during his work day) gets bumps and bruises, and crosses hard places. He often experiences tensions of a variety of kinds. All this makes it important that the home be a place that supports him.
3) Younger women are to “love their children.” It should be natural for mothers to love their children, but in New Testament times this admonition was badly needed. In our day of widespread abortion and many evidences of “unnatural affection,” the instruction is needed just as much as in New Testament times. The Christian woman is to be an affectionate mother.
Mothers need to be careful about the language they use when referring to children. A salesman knocked on the door; a child answered; when the salesman asked if he could talk to their mother, the little girl said, “Nobody but us cats are at home.” That says something about the lack of decency and courtesy and warm affection, does it not?
Mothers should be taught to love their children—by reading and praying with them, by being at home when they return from school, by disciplining firmly and fairly, and by molding them for the Lord’s service and not for the world’s approval.
In our day of crashing marriages and undisciplined children, the faithful counsel of older sisters in the church is desperately needed. We must note carefully that if our older women are not deliberately and intentionally teaching our younger women, and if younger women are refusing to accept the advice of older sisters, then we do not have a New Testament church.
Titus 2:5 continues the instruction for older women as they do the task of teaching younger women. Younger women are “to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
There is no greater task and responsibility and privilege in this world—than for a young woman to be an excellent homemaker.
1) Young women are to be “discreet.” The term speaks of a sense of what is appropriate. It is a general word which means “to be sensible, and careful about what we do, and how we say things.” The following are more specific admonitions about what it means to be discreet.
2) Young women are to be “chaste.” The word means “to guard one’s moral purity.” The young Christian woman is to keep her body completely for her own husband. This means that she must show a self-restraint that gives no ground for evil reports: Watch your manner of dress; avoid the clinging, form-fitting clothes, and scanty, revealing attire; avoid going places alone with a man (other than your husband or your father); and guard carefully your “body language”—the glancing of your eyes, the motions of your body, the use of endearing words. Men are pretty good at telling whether you’re advertising your body or not. Shoes with high heels, skirts that are slit at the bottom, blouses that are made of see-through material—these are all designed to increase the sensual desire of the opposite sex.
3) Young women are to be “keepers at home.” The phrase is translated from one word in the Greek—a word which has two facets of meaning: First, it means “workers at home”—it is a condemnation of idleness; the wife is to be a good housekeeper. Second, it means “lovers of home”—it is an appeal to make the home a place of top priority. The highest goal for any young wife should be to make the home a place where order and godliness are clearly evident.
It is important to see your children off to school in the morning, to welcome them home in the evening, to help them memorize Bible verses, to hear them say their prayers, and to put them to bed at night. To be employed outside the home or to attend every social function in the community makes it difficult to do those things. It is indeed a very high calling to be a homemaker for God.
Most of us are alarmed about the demise of the family in American life. We are concerned that children are carrying guns to school and are killing other children. In earlier times, the father was often seen as the one who failed. In more recent times, mothers are contributing much to the breakdown of family life. That is, mothers who have regular employment outside the home often are failing to accomplish well their duties in the home.
The number of mothers who work outside the home has increased dramatically in recent years. As a result, terms like “day-care centers” and “latchkey children” are new terms that have been coined to fit the modern times.
It is still God’s intention that most women should marry, bear children, and be keepers at home. And older women are to be available to teach them, to help them, and to serve as role models for them. But many times these days, grandmas are on a cruise, or playing shuffleboard in Florida, or going out on all kinds of shopping trips.
4) Young women are to be “good.” The word literally means “kindhearted.” The young wife is to add to the qualities of purity and thrift and skill in housekeeping—a gracious, kind, hospitable, and understanding attitude. Young women (like all of God’s people) are to be gentle, considerate, congenial, and sympathetic, even toward those who are undeserving and unkind to them. Jesus says that God Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men (see Luke 6:35).
The young wife must pray for grace to remain kind even when babies are crying, and work is piled up, and the days are interrupted by a variety of frustrations.
5) Young women are to be “obedient to their own husbands.” Submission is an old-fashioned virtue, and it is not a popular concept in our society, but God has a chain of command that is designed to bring harmony into our homes. God’s order puts the husband into a place of leadership, and the wife is to respect the authority of her husband. God designed this order. The sisters’ head-covering symbolizes acceptance of the order. Surely her life and conduct should show that she respects it.
The editor of a conservative Lutheran magazine prepared a column each month in which he responded to reader’s questions. He had been asked so often in recent years, the question, “Why should males (men) always be the leaders?” The editor was growing weary of the question, and so he replied once more. His reply was short and to the point: “Husbands are to be the leaders in the home simply because God decided they should be—so stop asking!”
Verse 5 concludes by saying that if women in the church ignore the commands of these verses, the Word of God is being blasphemed.
No one can force a believer to accept these standards, but those who choose not to accept these teachings are blaspheming the Word of God. We can blaspheme God not only by using curse words from the mouth, but also by professing to be Christians without doing what the Bible says. And whether we admit it or not, Christianity is often judged and evaluated by the impact that it has on women.
2. Counsel For Younger Men (Titus 2:6)
As with younger women, so there are some special admonitions directed especially to men who are in the early decades of their earthly life. Titus 2:6 says, “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.”
Younger men are to be “sober-minded.” In youth, there are more opportunities for going wrong than in any other period of life. Temptations are stronger, the blood runs hotter, and the influence of friends is more powerful. That is why (in 2 Timothy 2:22) young men are exhorted to “Flee youthful lusts.”
The message to young men is basically an exhortation to be self-controlled. The term “sober minded” is the same quality that was to be taught to the older men (verse 2), to younger women (verse 4), and it is to be a characteristic of bishops (Titus 1:8).
The word translated “sober minded” commonly means to be serious about life’s responsibilities. It speaks of being level-headed and balanced in one’s thinking. The admonition is especially appropriate for young men for several reasons:
1) The younger person often approaches life more recklessly than an older person does. This is true simply because the young person has not yet discovered (by experience) all the things that can go wrong. Most children will sometime or other touch a hot stove. Many young persons will drive a car too fast, start out too quickly, and take chances that are not safe. Compare auto insurance rates if you don’t believe that’s true. Youth is marked by tremendous zeal, lots of restless energy, and burning drives. Therefore it is necessary to encourage younger men to use moderation and to avoid being reckless when engaging in the activities of life.
2) The younger person often tends to go to extremes in his thinking. The young man sometimes becomes unusually skeptical on the one hand, or absolutely sure of his views on the other hand. It is hard to reason with some young men because they know the answers, and no one is going to tell them differently. A teenage boy, for example, said, “Rock music isn’t going to be harmful to me; I can handle it.” But most people cannot handle rock music.
3) The young man sometimes takes a much too idealistic view of life. Instead of being realistic and looking at things as they really are, he thinks there ought to be a quick solution to every dilemma. Television advertisements promote a remedy for everything: if you have a bellyache, there’s Alka-seltzer; if there is a feeling of inferiority, it’s a new sports car; if you have bad breath, there’s Wrigley’s chewing gum. But remember, young men, life is not that way. There are imperfections, interruptions, frustrations, and difficulties all along the pathway of life.
Those who are younger men must learn to exercise self-control over the emotions, conclusions, feelings, and ambitions in life. The word “sober-minded” means to be controlled and restrained, and to avoid extremes.
And if you are a married young man, remember that the girl you married took your name; she left the security of her home and family to come and to live with you; she pledged to share the joys and sorrows of life together with you. It is the height of cruelty to treat her harshly, to respond to her requests with cold indifference, to do things that you know she doesn’t like, and to answer her with even the slightest tone of sarcasm in your voice.
Wise up men! Resolve to be courteous and sensible and level-headed! Young men are to be sober-minded—balanced and controlled.
To summarize the first six verses of Titus 2 then—we might say that God’s people are to manifest a beautiful self-control, a sweet humility of spirit, and a deep genuine love for other persons.
The chapter started out with an admonition to “preach sound doctrine.” Those who have been called to teach and proclaim the Word of God must preach the Word in season and out of season—reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with all longsuffering and doctrine. Verse 10 (of Titus 2) says that if we preach sound doctrine that leads to wholesome living, the lives of our people will “adorn (or add luster to) the doctrine of God.”
Just as a frame can enhance a beautiful picture, so our lives should add luster to the Gospel of Christ. Sound doctrine should lead to sound living, and sound living adorns (advertises, makes attractive) the teaching about God.